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The Futurama Theorem

In case you missed it, Futurama was recently resurrected from beyond the television grave, and this summer it began airing new half-hour episodes on Comedy Central. Although it’s never reached the height of popularity achieved by its older sibling, The Simpsons, Futurama nevertheless has its own share of dedicated fans. Many of those fans appreciate the differences between this show and The Simpsons, the most obvious of which is the former’s futuristic setting and sci-fi influences.

The setting of the show naturally lends itself to math and science jokes, and in this department Futurama does not disappoint. Last week, however, they seriously stepped their game up a notch, by featuring the proof of an original mathematical result as a central feature in the plot of the story.

The mathematics evolves quite organically. In the show, Amy and Professor Farnsworth have created a mind-switching device, which can swap . . . → Read More: The Futurama Theorem

Math of the Rubik’s Cube

It’s rare for mathematical research to break into the mainstream media. New papers are posted on the arXiv every day, and published in journals all over the world throughout the year, but unless a famous problem is purported to have been solved (in this case, a famous problem is usually one that has a cash prize associated with its solution), knowledge of such advances is only found by those specifically seeking it. Last week, however, there an exception to this general rule was made for a new result concerning the Rubik’s cube.The conclusion, reached by an international team of mathematicians, is that the Rubik’s cube can always be solved in 20 moves or less, and that, moreover, their result is in some sense the best possible. This result was featured on the front page of Yahoo News for a couple of days, which I found surprising.

What do I mean . . . → Read More: Math of the Rubik’s Cube